Numerous studies have demonstrated the importance of vitamins B6, B12 and folate, for optimal physiological and neurological functioning. Deficiency in one or more vitamins in this family can lead to haematological and neurological diseases such as megaloblastic anaemia, depression and dementia including Alzheimer’s disease and vascular dementia in elderly people. However evidence for the benefit of dietary supplement of these B vitamins on mood, cognition and brain function is less clear. Little research has been conducted to study the neural correlate of vitamin B supplementations. The objective of this project is to investigate the effect of dietary supplementation of the vitamin B family (B6/B12/folate) on the excitatory and inhibitory synaptic activities in the brain, and the subsequent impact on behaviour. Using a rodent model, vitamins B6, B12, folate and their combinations will be administered through diet. Cognitive behaviour will be assessed throughout the feeding programme. In vivo electrophysiological experiments will then be performed to record evoked brain neural activity in response to sensory stimulation and compare to those of the control group without dietary intervention. The study will be conducted in rats with different age groups. Results from these experiments will address (i) whether vitamin B supplementation alters cognitive behaviour as well as brain neural activity of the animal, (ii) if so, whether excitatory and inhibitory activities are balanced after supplementation, and (iii) whether the supplementation differentially enhances neural activity in different age groups. During the programme, the student will be trained to perform cognitive assessment of animals, conduct in vivo electrophysiological experiment, and to gain laboratory skills including immunohistochemistry. The student will also learn to analyse data using signal processing, statistical and mathematical modelling techniques.
For potential applicants who would like to discuss further details of the project, please contact Prof Ying Zheng via email at: [email protected].
Applicants should have a Bachelor’s (at least 2.1 or equivalent) or Master’s degree in Science, Bio-Engineering, Medicine or a strongly related discipline. Experience in electrophysiology is desirable.